6 Fred. Olsen Black Watch Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Location - we wanted to travel to Greenland and this cruise left from Liverpool which was reasonably convenient. The itinerary (Iceland and Greenland with a short stop at Belfast at the end) was the decider. Plus points - ... Read More
Location - we wanted to travel to Greenland and this cruise left from Liverpool which was reasonably convenient. The itinerary (Iceland and Greenland with a short stop at Belfast at the end) was the decider. Plus points - Pleasant cabin Very efficient cabin steward Good food suitable for older conservative eaters (eating their body weight in smoked salmon) Observatory lounge very comfortable Excursions were interesting although they were keen to make sure that their elderly and very frail passengers didn’t struggle with the trips. Chris Bielby’s talks on the natural history of our itinerary were an absolute highlight. He was available to help with whale and bird watching and never endingly patient. Minus points Entertainment was embarrassingly old fashioned. The “black & white minstrel show” version of the Jackson Five was toe curling. The cinema was freezing cold and they had the nerve to show Mrs Doubtfire (made in 1993). The entertainment was overall more like a trip back into a Sunday evening television programme from the early 1960s. I wouldn’t travel on Black Watch or any other Fred Olsen ship unless it was for the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
The itinerary sounded interesting. Sadly, Norway was closed between Christmas and New Years! So nothing to see unless you bought a lot of tours. This was not mentioned when we signed up. The food and service were great. The ... Read More
The itinerary sounded interesting. Sadly, Norway was closed between Christmas and New Years! So nothing to see unless you bought a lot of tours. This was not mentioned when we signed up. The food and service were great. The entertainment was mediocre, usually provided by members of the ship's company. There was a very interesting lecturer from the air safety board but he was the only bright spot. The ship supposedly had recently had a major refit. However, many public areas were very cold and our suite was either too hot or too cold. There were very few public toilets (a distinct problem for the large number of older cruisers aboard). There was sometimes rusty water in the bathroom and the overhead lights flickered on and off. During a rainy spell many tables in the diningroom (including ours) had to be roped off for several days as the ceiling was leaking. We certainly were not expecting a Cunard experience, but given what we paid we were disappointed and will not be cruising Fred Olsen again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat ... Read More
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat in a non moving queue watching the taxi meter go from £13 to £20 finally getting out and carrying our luggage 100 metres to baggage check in. The cruise itself was great although we were struck down with a "Virus" for the last 5 of the 15 days. We didn't leave the cabin. Luckily this virus was in the form of a hacking cough and not stomach related. Many passengers were affected. Everything on board was good, food, service, cabin and most of the entertainment although we did have a guy called Christopher Gee who had, quite frankly, seen better days, dreadful. We did have issues with a couple of the port tours. We were disappointed that the catamaran used to take us Whale Watching was so large ( about 200 passengers) BUT we did see Whales so all good really. The other disappointing tour was Reindeer Sledding. Got to do it when you go to Norway. We arrived at the Sami Village and had a drink and traditional cake along with a talk about Sami Life, all very interesting. We were then divided into groups to go down to the reindeer. Bear in mind it was dark. We were led outside and a guy on a snow mobile helped a disabled person to get down to the lower level. He shot off with her on the machine and left the rest of us floundering around not knowing where to go. The Path was unmarked and unlit. We finally made it. They were having trouble controlling the reindeer! We were in a line of about 6 sleds, we were 2nd to last with a young reindeer behind us, well, we thought it was going to get into the sled with us and it was only my hand pushing it away which stopped by wife being injured. She was petrified and the trip was totally spoilt. I did complain at the time to the handler he admitted the problem. I complained again when back on board. I was given a 33% refund as a "Good Will Gesture" but I'm not happy. When taking these shore tours it's important to feel safe and that someone from the ship is keeping a lookout for you. Well this certainly wasn't the case. Definitely no Health and Safety procedures here. Other shore tours were good if a little more expensive than usual. Brilliant Northern Lights experience and an Igloo Hotel. This is my 2nd time to Norway so not sure would go back again but the scenery is amazing. My wife absolutely loved it. Seeing snow at Christmas really made the experience truly great. We've been travelling with P & O for our last few cruises on their smaller ships and I don't think there is much to choose between them. Hope this is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We booked a Christmas markets cruise to Denmark and Germany 18 months ago and at no time did Fred Olsen let us know that this cruise would be the first following a 28 day re-fit. We only found out by chance that this was happening just a ... Read More
We booked a Christmas markets cruise to Denmark and Germany 18 months ago and at no time did Fred Olsen let us know that this cruise would be the first following a 28 day re-fit. We only found out by chance that this was happening just a few weeks before departure. There had been quite a lot of cosmetic changes to the interior décor and the Glentanar Restaurant is much improved but who on earth chose the quite dreadful plastic feature in the centre? As is to be expected after a re-fit there were still residual "snagging" works carrying on even as the ship sailed. What was surprising however, was that there were no announcements or even letters to the cabins letting us fare paying passengers know that these works were still in progress and that “we apologise for any inconvenience caused”. Absolutely “zilch” from anybody, including the Captain and the (mostly anonymous) Cruise Director. The worst area was the cabin TV system. This was inoperative for the whole week and nobody at Fred Olsen seemed to care let alone take responsibility for the issue. All anyone got from the Reception desk was “someone’s working on it”. Very poor customer service if I may say so but then after all Fred Olsen had got our money 10 weeks prior to sailing so why should they care!! On a positive note the new “Black Watch Room” will be very good once they finish hanging the paintings that were still in packaging and left leaning against the walls. There is a £20 per head surcharge to dine in this room and I think that that amount is a fair charge for a distinctly superior meal. It was a great shame that they spoilt it by serving the butter for the bread rolls in those canteen type plastic sachets! Hopefully our feedback to the Maître D on this point will improve matters for future passengers. The crew were as friendly as ever and the entertainment was rescued by that excellent comedian Christopher Gee. The Guest Lecturer – who talked about various aspects of Christmas – was sadly out of her depth and persisted in reading verbatim from her powerpoint slides. Oh, and beware the new coffee station. This has now been transferred from the old Braemar Lounge to just outside the entrance to the Neptune Lounge. There is hardly enough room to swing a cat let alone help yourself to a drink, especially if more than three of you are intent on the same mission at the same time! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was not too far a trip for my mother in law and it was also near Christmas. We were not impressed with the parking set up for our car, signs not clear etc. After we had checked I looked for a bar and somewhere ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was not too far a trip for my mother in law and it was also near Christmas. We were not impressed with the parking set up for our car, signs not clear etc. After we had checked I looked for a bar and somewhere to eat, only found a gazebo type structure with a very poor range of drinks and very little to eat. If this port wants to be taken seriously it needs to get a grip. This is certainly not an international port of departure in my book. Problems. On leaving port we found our cabin very warm, tried to turn it down, no good. Many passengers we spoke to had complaints ranging from no hot water, no cold water or the best one, no water at all. Tv's did not work properly at all even though we were told they would be fine by the time we got to Hamburg. No they were not. One of the exercise pools seemed to be permantly out of order. Lots of work being carried on outside cabins, sometimes starting quite early in the morning and also quite late at night. Inside the ship notice boards or direction/information boards were still being put up. In my view 28 days was not long enough and the ship should never have left dry dock. Plus points. Those areas that had been refurbished were very nice particularly the restaurants. Staff were excellent. Food as usual was really good. Entertainment was not to bad either. We found information from the captain was poor and sometimes could not be heard, we were on this ship four years ago and had a poor cruise, captain was the same guy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We booked the cruise in Sep 12 having been offered All Inclusive as an incentive. The cabin grade we were after was "Sold Out" and the cheapest we could get was a D Grade cabin on Deck 4 (We had already booked a Transatlantic for ... Read More
We booked the cruise in Sep 12 having been offered All Inclusive as an incentive. The cabin grade we were after was "Sold Out" and the cheapest we could get was a D Grade cabin on Deck 4 (We had already booked a Transatlantic for a few weeks earlier on another liner so this was a Bonus Cruise). At the time of booking there was only one price range offered. A few months later we noticed that FO had introduced 2 price ranges and ours was on offer for £400 less and the lower grade room we were told were sold out were being offered even cheaper. We tried a number of times both direct and via the Agent to rectify this to no avail. The day before the sailing we were informed that our embarkation had been delayed by a few hours due to decontamination of the ship from a Norovirus outbreak the cruise before. During the 7 days we witnessed several individuals being sick in public areas, unable to control their actions. The Captain had ordered all public facilities closed and passengers had to use there own cabin facilities. This had 2 effects - firstly people who use their own toilets are less likely to wash there hands after than those in a public toilet. Secondly, its no fun if you are trying to consume "All Inclusive" drinks on Deck 9 and the toilet is on Deck 4. It saved the company a fortune on Drinks! All Self Service facilities were withdrawn and the staff (Entertainers included) had to man the Serveries. This was a disaster as they cordoned off the facilities and the staff served from inside the cordon. Passengers could not see what was on offer and had to accept the crews portions. Also the staff would only serve "their Patch" so if you wanted a variety you could end up queuing 4 times for 1 meal. It saved the company a fortune on Food! The actions taken did not slow down the virus so how was it moving through so many passengers. Not being a medical person I could not make a professional comment but as a passenger I would point out that on more than one occasion I noticed that everyone who was drinking was signing for their drinks with the same pen!!! Luckily neither I nor my wife were taken ill, neither were we ever intoxicated! 3 Days after my cruise I weighed less than when I boarded. This has never happened before. As a bonus we could not sleep on the first night due to a loud buzzing noise. The pursers staff said it was normal. A senior engineer then said it was not normal and it was from the refrigeration unit. A junior engineer set to fix it couldn't and we spent the next 6 nights with earplugs which the shop just happened to have on sale. Other cabins in the same area did not have the noise ! I would add that the Ports were excellent and would recommend Norway Cruising to anyone   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.4
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.4

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